Commonwealth Games Federation

Scope and Content

Papers of the Commonwealth Games Federation, 1937-2006, comprising:

Central administrative records of the General Secretary, 1937-1986 [very incomplete]; Table plan for the dinner of the British Empire and Commonwealth Games Council for England, 1954; Sample embroidered blazer badge of the new CGF emblem, [1974];

Summary of the results of the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games; Team handbook for the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games; Official Team England Reports of the 1990, 1998 and 2006 Commonwealth Games; Technical booklets for the sporting competitions of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games;

Application by the city of Birmingham to bid to host the 1982 Commonwealth Games, Feb 1975; Applications by the cities of Sheffield, London and Manchester to be chosen as the English candidate to bid for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, 1993-1994; Bid by the city of Melbourne to host the 2006 Commonwealth Games, [?1999];

'All that glitters', the official film of the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, 1982; Press releases launching the fundraising appeal to send Team England to the 1994 Commonwealth Games, [1993].

Administrative / Biographical History

The Rev Ashley Cooper had first suggested a four yearly ‘English speaking’ festival of sport for countries within the British Empire in an article in ‘The Times’ in 1891. However it was not until 1911 that an ‘Inter-Empire Championships’ took place at Crystal Palace as part of the ‘Festival of Empire’ to mark the coronation of King George V.

It would be 1928 before any formal steps were taken to organise a British Empire Games. In that year, the Canadian Melville Marks ‘Bobby’ Robinson was promised support from the Hamilton civic authorities and, after meetings with the Empire representatives, it was agreed that the first British Empire Games were to be held in Hamilton, Canada in 1930.

The ‘British Empire Games’ was renamed the ‘British Empire and Commonwealth Games’ at a meeting of the Federation on 20 July 1952. A further meeting on 7 August 1966 saw it becoming the ‘British Commonwealth Games’ before finally changing its title to the ‘Commonwealth Games’ on 27 January 1974.

The British Empire Games Federation, later the Commonwealth Games Federation, was formed at a meeting held in Los Angeles, 7 August 1932. Just as the International Olympic Committee is the governing body in charge of the Olympic Games, the CGF oversees the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games.


Duncan’s original references and arrangement have been retained for simplicity. The ‘E’ prefix essentially denotes the Commonwealth Games Federation (Council for England), the organisation in charge of sending an English Team to the Commonwealth Games. The ‘F’ prefix probably denotes the records of the overall Federation.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is by appointment only, please contact the Archives Department, University of East London, for information.

Acquisition Information

A small amount of material was filed amongst the British Olympic Association's library & archive collection when it was deposited with the University of East London, November 2009. Sandy Duncan's files were transferred from the British Olympic Association in January 2010.

Other Finding Aids

A hand list is available in Word format on request.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The 16mm film cannot be accessed as there is no equipment to play it on.

Archivist's Note

Sources: ‘Constitution of the Commonwealth Games’, London: The Commonwealth Games Federation,1980. Description by Caroline Lam

Conditions Governing Use

Copies, subject to copyright and the condition of the original, may be supplied. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the archivist.

Custodial History

From the mid 1950s until the mid 1990s, the Commonwealth Games Federation shared offices with the British Olympic Association, and even shared the services of Kenneth Sandilands ‘Sandy’ Duncan the BOA’s General Secretary who did the equivalent job for the CGF. On his retirement in the mid 1970s he became their life Vice-President.

The archives of the CGF were therefore housed alongside the BOA archive & library collection. However, both collections were severely affected by three floods at the BOA’s Wandsworth offices between 1988 and 1994. Although a description of the contents which once formed the holdings of the CGF archive appears in Cook & Waller ‘Sources in Contemporary British History’ volume 1, (1994) p86, none of it survives apart from what is listed below.


The 3rd accession of material sent from the BOA in January 2010 comprised the extant records of its General Secretary Sandy Duncan. However in amongst these were files from his role at the CGF. These records appear to have been stored for many years in metal filing cabinets in a very damp room as many have suffered water damage of some kind or other. In regards to the BOA files, an estimated 30-40% of his records have survived, but this figure is likely to be considerably less in regards to the CGF as a substantial section (around a drawer full) of its files are waterlogged and covered in black mould. Whether conservation work can be undertaken is unclear as it is likely to be expensive and may not actually save the material. The 'Scope & Content' list does not include this closed material which are primarily the records of the CGF Council for England, c.1970s.

Related Material

The University of East London also holds the archive and reference library of the British Olympic Association, 1906-2009.